On October 1, a presidential determination could dramatically reduce the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States to less than 15,000, or even to zero. In response, All Saints’, St. Luke’s, St. Bede’s, Christ Church Norcross, Holy Trinity Parish, and St. Michael and All Angels have formed the Diocesan Refugee Advocacy Consortium. The Consortium’s mission is to encourage advocacy for refugees as an act of faith, rooted in the gospel. As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has said, “When we welcome the stranger, we welcome the Lord God himself. We welcome Jesus.”
At a time when many churches and organizations are already feeling overwhelmed by the humanitarian crisis on the southern border and the devastation of the recent asylum ban, joining the Consortium might feel like too much, but as Meghan Vesel of St. Bede’s and the New Sanctuary Movement of Atlanta (NSMA) states, “We have to work together. These issues aren’t separate and these massive humanitarian crises in different parts of the world are stemming from the same source: fear and misinformation. NSMA hopes to be a part of the effort to reclaim our place in the world in showing compassion towards refugees.”
Ashley Coleman of New American Pathways says, “At a time when there have never been more globally displaced people in need of safety and refuge, it’s extremely disconcerting to see the U.S. abdicate its role as a leader in refugee resettlement. Reducing the cap of our new refugee arrivals is not only a betrayal to the 40,000 ‘travel-ready’ refugee families who have been promised a new life in the U.S., it signals a further reduction in capacity for the program that will have devastating consequences for years to come.”
Jonathan Tonge, leader of the Refugee Ministries program at St. Luke’s, explained why his parish decided to join the Consortium, “We can’t give into despair. America may abandon millions around the world who instantly come to mind when one considers the least of these. But we don’t have to accept that fate in silence. We don’t have to acquiesce. We can still do everything in our power to create a different world and a different decision.”
The Consortium will host four events during a Week of Action for Refugees. The first three will take place at parishes to write postcards and make phone calls to lawmakers to ask them to support the refugee resettlement program:
1. Wednesday, September 25, 6:15 to 7:30 p.m., Shaffer Room at All Saints’ Episcopal Church (634 W. Peachtree St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30308). Dinner before starting at 5:00 p.m.
2. Thursday, September 26, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Holy Trinity Episcopal Church (515 E Ponce de Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030). Lunch provided.
3. Thursday, September 26, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (435 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308). Lunch provided.
The week will culminate with the Rally for Resettlement: A Solidarity Event for Refugees and Agencies on Saturday, September 28 from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., at the Clarkston International Bible Church (3895 Church St, Clarkston, GA 30021), to honor World Relief, a refugee agency that must close due to the reduction in refugee arrivals, as well as other agencies whose services will be reduced. There will also be a community building activity to create new networks of service for people in Clarkston.
To learn more, contact Louisa Merchant, Director of All Saints’ Refugee Ministries, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RSVP for the Rally for Resettlement here.